Douchebag's Guide to Carbon Footprint Reduction
Every day I wake up and blithely contribute to climate change. Out of mental lethargy and a misguided sense of being too busy, I subsidize greenhouse gasses, dump waste incorrectly, and use energy like it'll last forever. In the supermarket I never look at labels; I buy toxic crap from irresponsible companies and support overfishing or inhuman farming practises without a thought. And all because I don't feel like I've got time to do otherwise. I'm too caught up. Too caught up in what? Being willfuly ignorant and undutiful? Today I woke up and decided; not any more. Here are ten ways I'm going to try and reduce my impact on the environment. Let's call it the Douchebag's Guide to Carbon Footprint Reduction.
1 Make a new supermarket list without GM products. As a form of farming and source of nutrition, the cultivation of genetically modified food (GM) is woefully insostenible, causing soil contamination, genetic contamination and loss of biodiversity. In Spain, transgénicos are found in many products containing maize or soya - anything from biscuits to chocolate, pet food, cooking oil and margarine. Most maize and soya are imported from the USA or Argentina, where GM farming is a norm, though since 1998 Spain has joined the club, becoming the only EU country which has its own commercial GM maize plantations.
What I can do: Greenpeace España's website publishes an annual lista verde and lista roja relating to GM products available in Spain. I can do my bit by buying products on the Green List and ones marked ecológico (organic). And gaily shunning products from serial red list offenders like Nestlé, Grupo SOS, Danone, Novopet and FRIPAN, who are either proved to use transgénicos or don't provide adequate consumer information on the matter.
2 Eat less carne! Cows and sheep produce large quantities of methane, which is many times more damaging to the the old medioambiente that carbon dioxide. The livestock sector (ganadería) is thought to cause 14% of worldwide greenhouse gasses, approximately the same as the transport sector. And as the world's hunger for cheap meat grows, more and more woodlands (80%, according to Greenpeace's stats) have been logged away to provide grazing pastures for cattle. Equally astonishingly, around 75% of all agricultural land in the world is given over to raising livestock.
So what can I do? I can start by eating beef and lamb once as opposed to several times a week. Instead of a burger, a barbie and bolognaise all in the same semana, I can pick one of the three. My digestive tract will probably thank me as well.
3 Go Vintage!
Re-using old clothes is kinder on the earth's resources than constantly buying new ones. Plus, vintage clothes are generally higher quality than anything you'll get on the high street today. If they're still in good nick after ten or so years, they've already passed the test of time, unlike your standard piece of shit H&M tee-shirt.
4 Buy seasonal produce
By trying to eat seasonally, we respect the natural cycles of the earth. In a time, for instance, when the seas are at risk of being dangerously overfished, Greenpeace España, has a helpful new seafood app telling you which fish are in season and being caught using sustainable methods. Here 's a link for it: https://pescadodetemporada.org/
When it comes to fruit and veg, it seems prudent to apply the 100-Mile Rule. More local equals fresher, better... and a smaller carbon footprint.
5 Use LEDS to light your home
Getting rid of energy-greedy halogen lights and replacing them with long-lasting, low-consumption Light Emitting Diodes helps will help reduce my bill
6 Don't buy cosmetic goods containing microbeads
Microbeads. They're little balls of plastic, known as micro-plásticos in Spanish, which are found in an astonishing range of cosmetics - anything from toothpaste to shower gel and skin products - and are so small they escape the filter process, ending up in rivers and subsequently the sea. The UK government has made a commitment to ban them from products available in supermarkets by the end of 2017, but Spain is yet to do the same, meaning supermercado shelves are still flooded with products from companies such as Estee Lauder, REVLON, Edgewell and Amway, which, according to Greenpeace, haven't done enough to bring the problem under control.
Eight million tonnes of plastic are released into oceans each year. Most of it (70%) reaches the seabed, while 15 % winds up in islands of garbage on the surface. As a far-reaching result, recent research highlights an increasing amount of plastic showing up in fish and shellfish products on supermarket shelves. Meanwhile, by 2020 worldwide plastic production will have increased 900% since 1980.
7 Don't change, repair
For decades we've been operating on the wasteful principle of buy-dump-buy. The new motto needs to be buy-repair-use again. Many manufactured goods consume more energy in their making, than they use during their lifespans, so it makes sense to hold onto the goods you have and either learn how to fix them or ask someone else to. In Sweden the government has committed to a huge reduction in taxes on product repair, to encourage citizens not to throw away their products in exchange for new ones. Hopefully such a shift in thinking will someday occur in Spain. Until then it's down to us to resist what comes easiest.
8 Get on Your Bike
Cities like Barcelona are constantly opening up new bike lanes and creating go-slow roads to encourage people to leave their car at home.
9 Grow your own veg
Even if you don't have a garden or access to an alotment, you can grow tomatoes, herbs and other good stuff on your terrace. Make compost with the organic waste from your kitchen.
10 Invest in sustainable energy
Buy solar panels to feed your home energy. Invest in wind and solar energy companies. Sell your shares in fossil fuel companies. Drain the resources (financial) that seem to matter most to the companies that care least - about the earth.